White House counselor Dan Bartlett announced on CNN's "Late Edition" that Bush had no intention of lobbying the Senate to revive an amendment banning same-sex marriages. Surprise, surprise, surprise!
Amendment backers defended it on the grounds that states might be forced, under the "full faith and credit" provision of Article IV of the Constitution, to recognize gay marriages or civil unions of other states. But according to Bartlett, most senators believe the Defense of Marriage Act (which exempts gay marriage from the interstate comity provision) "passes constitutional muster." Besides, it's not at all clear whether Article IV comity law applies to matters regulated under the state police power. Arguably, the fugitive slave clause was added to the Constitution because otherwise the traditional law of comity would not apply to practices like slavery that some states prohibited as morally repugnant.
In any case, Bush sees an attempt to revive the amendment as more trouble than it's worth.
Let's backtrack a bit. " Moral values" were a big wedge issue among Red State voters in November. The ostensible threat of gay marriage was cynically manipulated by Karl Rove to drive social conservatives to the polls. But in his first speech after the election, on how he was going to spend his "political capital," Bush mentioned only tort "reform" and Social Security "reform." Not a word about "family values." And now Bush announces that he's not going to do, after all, what he probably had no intention of doing in the first place.
So the social conservatives of the Red States, whom Karl Rove led around by the nose, voted against their economic interests on the assumption that Bush would actually do something about gay marriage. And now Bush is back at work doing his primary job of serving the interest of Blue State country club republicans, who don't give a rip about "moral values"--but if the truth be known are probably funnelling megabucks to Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, et al. Millions of people thought the urgent need for a bunch of blue-noses to make sure everybody kept his dick where it belonged, outweighed the progressive transformation of this country into a sweatshop owned by 1% of the population from inside their gated communities. And they didn't even get that.
Paging Thomas Frank....